Life in general
The year 2014 saw a few milestones for me.
I started a new job, turned 40, and continued to learn how to balance a marriage, a career and my passion for the outdoors.
If anything, this is the year I’ve come to peace a bit more with my career. I have stumbled upon a career that has given me a skill set that pays well, is increasingly in demand and will let me find a job in many different areas.
The IT field will never be my passion. But it is allowing my someone and I to help achieve our longer term goal of a life with more flexibility.
If my 20s was about finding my passion, and my 30s was about finding financial stability, than I think my 40s will be about finally finding the balance between my passion, a yearning for more time off and achieving even longer term financial stability.
A more “free-spirit” may say “it all works in the end” or that “money does not matter”. But many free spirits seem to have a financial support network that my someone and I frankly do not have. 🙂 We have to be smart, disciplined and then reap the rewards at, hopefully, a fairly young age. And money many not ultimately matter when I am six-feet under, but creating a modest, but fulfilling, life of our own will take financial resources and planning. We do not want to work at a traditional job until we are 65 or even 60, frankly.
Enough of the wool gathering about financial stability. Here’s what our lifestyle brought forth….
The year saw my usual camping, backpacking, hiking, skiing and even a modest amount of climbing.
If I had to pick my favorite trips from 2014, I’d say it was this bunch:
- The Good Way – Bandelier National Monument: A wonderful backcountry gem with both beautiful scenery, an isolated feel and lots of history
- Echoes of the past – Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients: Some car camping with the Mrs in a very unique area. “Isolation” is the word that came to mind here.
- Buffalo Peaks Saunter: Nothing too epic or unique. Just a pleasant area to spend time with my someone after a grad school imposed hiatus limite her backpacking.
- Northern Colorado Delights: One of my favorite backpacking trips. Period. “Only” 33 miles, but 9000′ gain, some Class Three scrambling, mainly off-trail. Lots of gorgeous scenery. Nary a soul to be seen.
- Flat Top Mountains Jaunt: A more relaxing trip in a place I have not explored before. A perfect place to amble, wander, ramble and saunter.
- Up and Over in RMNP- Euro Style: Another prominent off-trail jaunt..but European style. A great stay at a hostel at the half-way point and some just plain AWESOME fall weather.
- Red Mountain Open Space – A walk through time: A relatively new open space outside of Ft. Collins, CO. This place is essentially a canyon in the High Plains. Amazing rock formations up to three-billion years old.
- Giving thanks in the desert – Capitol Reef: Another great Thanksgiving spent in the canyon country of Utah. Every trip I take to the Colorado Plateau always stands out like an exclamation mark in my life’s experiences.
This website is my sanity check. I can not spend as much time in the outdoors as I’d like, but over the years I found I do enjoy writing about it. For various reasons, seems a fair amount people enjoy reading my ramblings. 🙂
The top ten articles from my site indicate an interesting trend. My top articles are essays on the outdoors and related topics, gear overviews and information. With the exception of one article, my relatively few gear item-specific articles are not the most popular. Good! Means, I must be doing something correct. 😉
- Backpacking Loops – Mags Favorites: One of oldest article I believe. Goes back to three generations of my website and is about a decade old. Some good, solid and accessible loops. I’ve learned from this article not to get too specific about other loops esp off trail ones! 🙂
- The Colorado Trail “End to End” Guide: As The Colorado Trail gains in popularity, not surprised this article has become popular. My small contribution to the long distance hiking community.
- That Book – Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: The popularity of this article surprised me. Many people have written about this book (and now movie), but this article seems to be making the rounds. Maybe because I don’t have any real attachment to the book/movie one way or the other and the writing reflects that view?
- Hike My Hike – Damn It! (HMHDI): The longer I am in the long-distance hiking community, the more I shake my head. I need to write a sequel to this of sorts: I WILL HIKE MY HIKE DAMN IT! 😉
- Alcohol Stoves Reconsidered: Another article that surprised me in popularity. Based on some reactions, you may have thought I suggested riding up and down the Appalachian Trail on an ATV! 🙂 Instead I simply wrote that I don’t think alchie stoves are the end all and be all of stoves. Which brings me to…
- Thru-Hikers: Specialized outdoors knowledge: The thrust of a thru-hike on the three more popular trails has changed in some aspects. In some ways, it is more of a Camino-like experience esp on the AT (and to lesser extents on the PCT and CDT). The skills gained from hiking these trails are getting more and more narrow in focus. Following a smart phone app and having a PDF for water caches does not really prepare a person for the outdoors vs in years past. It does make for a wonderful experience, just one not readily applicable to general outdoor pursuits. With hiker aid stations, lots of logistic support, ample guidebooks and a well-marked route, it is more akin to a very long, if more social and non-competitive, foot race. I’m not complaining as it is a wonderful experience. Just less of a wildness experience. So it goes. If we all liked the same thing, Baskin Robins would just sell vanilla ice cream.
- Going Stoveless: Cold food for thought: Just another tool in the kit. Going stove-free can be great for drought, hot and/or open-flame ban conditions. Give it a whirl.
- A Quick and Dirty Guide to The Pacific Crest Trail: Simple and “just the facts”. Glad people enjoy it.
- Ground Cloths : A quick overview: People seem like they enjoy this article, too. Never knew there were so many nuances to a ground cloth. 🙂
- (TIE) Gear Review – Timex Indiglo watch: My only truly popular gear review! Ha! Fitting an inexpensive, but practical, piece of gear would be my most popular gear review. To those who don’t say you need a watch in the wild, I am guessing they stick to the well-marked trails and/or have not bothered taking a first aid class? 😉
- (TIE) The Joy of Car Camping – Base Camping for the active outdoors person: The Timex article and the Car Camping article seem to swap places. Camping can be a great way to see something off the beaten path not meant/allowed for backpacking. I loved my time in the Wind River Range. I also loved my time in Chaco. Both were wonderful memories.
- The podcast I co-host featuring beer, trails and nonsense is still going well 2+ years later.
- I’ve been having a lot of fun being a regular contributor to TrailGroove magazine. Another creative outlet for me. Even before I started writing for this magazine, I’ve always enjoyed it. What I love about this magazine is that it celebrates the outdoors itself in all its many facets. Excellent writing (not counting me! :D), great photography (ditto!) and always something interesting to read.
- I again guided for Andrew Skurka on his backpacking fundamentals trip and his winter trip. Due to his schedule, I’ll only be guiding the winter one this coming year (2015).
- Signed on as a Gossamer Gear ambassador
- I’ve been an active board member for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. It is wonderful to give back to something I love.
- Was able to meet and help out with some Warrior Hikers on their CDT trek. Excellent cause. Consider donating if you can.
- I finally met Cam “Swami” Honan after several years of correspondence. As expected, we somehow enjoyed sharing a pint together. Just don’t let him tell you about our bushwhacking adventure…
- Lastly, and certainly not least, the wife and I celebrated two years of marriage by taking a long weekend in Taos.
- I’ll be going into the belly of the beast at the OR trade show in Salt Lake City next month. I’ll be going to assist with the CDTC activities Hopefully the CDTC can help form some partnerships to help out with the trail.
- Long overdue trip to Germany sometime this coming year. See the in-laws, have some good beer, eat some potatoes and sausage. Repeat.
- My middle brother is getting married. A good old-school East Coast wedding. Which means I have to wear a tux. Considering I wore sandals for my wedding….Well, I can’t do that at an East Coast wedding. 🙂
- We’ll see what happens….